July 19th, 2009 17:36:00
Before launching his infamous extreme bondage and SM website insex.com in 1997, Brent Scott was a University professor with a history of challenging, controversial performance art, often involving the bondage, caging or cocooning of his subjects (or himself). But he left behind a life of academia to pursue BDSM full time, sharing his obsession online with the eventual 35,000 members that signed up to insex.com to see videos and live streaming of models being put through extremely torturous BDSM scenarios. Directors Barbara Bell (also a novelist) and Anna Lorentzon are former insex.com contributors behind the scenes, and their first feature is an exploration of the sometimes titillating, often frightening world they inhabited for that time.
Bell and Lorentzon let the subjects (site founder Brent Scott [aka 'pd'], camera operators, models and model handlers) speak for themselves and remain ambiguous as to their personal take on the goings on behind the scenes at insex.com. Although many of the women appear to be well-rounded individuals who turned to insex.com's secret pleasures and hefty paychecks as a means of getting through school, others are not able to articulate their experiences with as much detachment. But bear in mind, these are no ordinary glamour shots of phony BDSM scenarios - these women have signed up not only to look like they're in pain, but to actually be in pain, to actually be frightened and in fear for their lives. They are put into dangerous contraptions that have likely not been properly tested, and made helpless: their limbs tied, their mouths gagged, their airway passages restricted with rubber or water. And yet all women claim to be there voluntarily.
The issue of personal safety is a major one in the film - after all, one cannot be in another's shoes in terms of what they actually get out of the experience. But as the models decide on their 'hard limits' (meaning a limit the 'master' must always respect) and their 'safe words', we watch as their safe words are ignored, and the pressure of losing a job keeps them submitting to out-of-control scenarios they do not enjoy. The problem is, when Brent Scott left the realm of academia to hole up in his BDSM bubble, he stopped being critical - he stopped questioning the power dynamic (which is the most integral, interesting aspect of BDSM) and acted like a king in a castle, allowing his fantasies to run free at the expense of his models' safety.
Although the content and certain footage will be upsetting to some viewers, GRAPHIC SEXUAL HORROR is an eye-opening, discussion-provoking documentary that explores concepts and systems of manipulation and the problems inherent in extreme BDSM culture, as well as addressing both personal rights and first amendment rights.
GRAPHIC SEXUAL HORROR plays Sunday July 19th at 10pm in the Hall Theatre.
Full details including description, images, trailer and more at the film page HERE.
- Kier-La Janisse